Joyn Case Study
Joyn Builds Groundbreaking Streaming Video Platform with AWS
A vast selection of popular entertainment from a single app: that is the fundamental idea behind the Joyn platform. Founded in 2018 as a joint venture between ProSiebenSat.1 and Discovery, Joyn GmbH is the first free streaming video service in Germany to combine live TV with on-demand content libraries and exclusive programming. It now includes more than 60 live channels and more than 30,000 video-on-demand (VOD) offerings, including external content such as German public broadcasters ZDF and ZDFneo, with new offerings added continuously.
Joyn offers users the widest selection of VOD and live content in Germany. A basic version of the service is free of charge and can be accessed without registration. In November 2019, a premium version was launched, providing additional content for a monthly fee. This ad-free offering includes feature films as well as premium channels such as ProSieben FUN or Eurosport 2.
A free platform that aggregates content from different providers, offering not only a broad media library, enriched with current blockbusters and classics, as well as local originals and exclusive content, but also live TV, was revolutionary in Germany at the time...Working in collaboration with AWS resulted in rapid solutions and increased confidence.”
The rise of streaming services, premium channels, and on-demand libraries shows that traditional television is no longer the medium of choice for many. “Young people in particular don't want to be told what they can watch, how, and when,” said Alexandar Vassilev, CEO at Joyn.
Digital applications are vital to reaching these audiences. However, a handful of criteria determines whether a new service gains acceptance: In addition to the widest possible selection, it is important that content is always available seamlessly and smoothly — whether you’re on the way to work, on the subway, or spending the evening on the couch.
With this in mind, ensuring optimal availability of all services was a key requirement for the product developers at Joyn. The goal was to integrate a large number of in-house and external video offerings on the platform — and in the shortest possible time. “A free platform that aggregates content from different providers, offering not only a broad media library, enriched with current blockbusters and classics, as well as local originals and exclusive content, but also live TV, was revolutionary in Germany at the time,” noted Vassilev.
Why Amazon Web Services
To achieve its ambitious goals, the development team led by Vassilev opted for an external cloud provider. “Scalability and the best possible user experience are key for us to become the “Champion of Choice” in Germany. That's why we are always looking for great solutions in the cloud sector,” explained the CEO.
Key to selecting a cloud provider was the ability to go to market as quickly as possible. Joyn went from defining the initial idea to launching its platform in the AWS Cloud in less than 12 months.
Amazon Web Services (AWS) turned out to be an ideal partner. Thanks to the selection of services and pre-designed solutions, Joyn's team was able to quickly build the service it wanted. Vassilev and his staff were in close contact with AWS and had direct access to the relevant teams on technical issues. “Time is an important factor for us. Working in collaboration with AWS resulted in rapid solutions and increased confidence,” said Vassilev.
Launching the new platform meant a completely new infrastructure had to be designed. Joyn draws on a wide range of AWS services to make the most of the different elements of its platform.
The service layer is designed based on Docker containers and a microservices architecture. Amazon Elastic Container Service (Amazon ECS) simplifies managing containers, and AWS Fargate allows them to run in a serverless manner. This ensures simple scaling of individual services at all times.
Joyn relies on AWS Elemental MediaStore to deliver live video offerings. This storage service is specifically designed to handle demanding media delivery workloads. Maintaining extremely low latency is crucial, especially during ingest (i.e., when the content is uploaded to the platform), which places special requirements on the system architecture.
For the VOD service, meeting the demanding security requirements of large Hollywood studios is a top priority. Joyn worked with AWS Professional Services to develop an integrated transcoding and storage solution that uses restrictive access management through AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM), with account activity and resources tracked with AWS CloudTrail and AWS Config. The entire system is subject to version control performed using AWS CloudFormation templates, allowing architectural changes to be verified consistently.
Services such as Amazon CloudFront, which serves as the content delivery network (CDN), ensure a smooth flow of all elements. AWS Lambda and Lambda@Edge are used to process metadata; for example, to map the content of the platform to the different formats without deploying servers.
Joyn offers a format that is unique in the German media landscape. Working with AWS offers a number of benefits to the Joyn platform.
Equalize Peak Viewing Times
Classic primetime viewing is not a relic of the past. On streaming platforms, the number of viewers rises sharply around 8:00 p.m. in the evening. Major sporting events attract additional viewers at peak times. Joyn’s newly developed cloud solution can flexibly compensate for fluctuations in concurrent users. Capacities are scaled up and down as needed — from two EC2 instances in dormant mode to up to 60 instances at peak events.
“We scale by a factor of ten every day, and even occasionally by a factor of twenty shortly after the launch,” explained Vassilev. The number of initial users came as a welcome surprise to the company, making it all the more important that the compute instances could be scaled flexibly. With the help of the cloud, the scalable solution can easily handle a growing number of users and an ever-increasing range of media content.
Speed was not only a decisive factor at the launch of the product; even in production, the platform is continuously expanded and further developed. “At Joyn, we focus on the user. We are in close contact with our Joyn community every day. Via the built-in feedback tool in the product we receive fast and open feedback from our users. Our team, consisting of more than 300 employees from over 30 nations, is working hard to prioritize and implement this feedback as quickly as possible,” said Vassilev. For example, Joyn’s bookmark function and Chromecast integration are based on specific requests from customers.
By using AWS, Joyn's developer teams can work quickly and autonomously. Using an API server, developers can independently configure the existing infrastructure as desired. This bypasses long development times, increases customer satisfaction, and ultimately saves costs.
For an aggregator platform like Joyn, it is crucial to be able to maintain the security of its infrastructure in any situation. The launch showed that there is hardly any room for error: Shortly after the platform went online, Joyn witnessed its first attacks, but they were successfully defended.
Two elements were critical: preparation, and reliability of services. During the development phase, Joyn and AWS employees worked together on numerous scenarios and potential problem cases, and those learnings were integrated into the development of the solution. The actual launch went without issues, and the solution has proven performant ever since.
However, the most important measure of the success of the Joyn platform has been the enthusiastic reception from viewers. Just a few months after launch, the Joyn app counted more than 7,000,000 active users, and the trend is accelerating. “Our goal is to become the German “Champion of Choice” and to create a streaming platform that serves the needs of our users,” said Vassilev. In doing so, the Media Companies behind the Joyn platform are accounting for changing viewing habits — and putting themselves in a position to shape the future of entertainment.
Founded in 2018 as a joint venture between ProSiebenSat.1 and Discovery, Joyn is today the first free platform in Germany to connect live TV with media libraries and own exclusive content. It now includes more than 60 live channels and more than 30,000 video-on-demand offerings (VoD), including external content such as public broadcasters ZDF and ZDFneo.
AWS Services Used
AWS Elemental MediaStore
AWS Elemental MediaStore acts as the origin store in your video workflow. Its high performance capabilities meet the needs of the most demanding media delivery workloads, combined with long-term, cost-effective storage.
Amazon CloudFront is a fast content delivery network (CDN) service that securely delivers data, videos, applications, and APIs to customers globally with low latency, high transfer speeds, all within a developer-friendly environment.
Amazon Elastic Container Service
Amazon Elastic Container Service (Amazon ECS) is a fully managed container orchestration service.
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